This morning i made an extremely simple version of eggs Benedict on the yacht.
If you are a fan of this decadent breakfast meal, but do not want to go through the hassle of first poaching.. and on the rocking boat, poaching can be a real pain. And of course if you want to avoid all the labour of making hollandaise sauce… double boiler, stirring till your hand falls off blah blah… here is a reasonably good facsimile that adds a lil schwing to the first meal of a day.
Our bread is very old now and dry like a rusk.. but being poor as a child means that you get to know the various ways to rejuvenate old duck food.
When you are skint you get to know bread on a personal level. Me and bread were such good friends that we saw too much of each other, and gradually grew apart. I hardly ever eat the stuff now… its reserved for the ducks mainly… but there used to be a time when we were tight.
There used to be bread slicers in all the supermarkets in the old days, and after youd paid for your groceries you could pass your loaf through the machine with its multiple blades… and voila.. the best thing since sliced bread.
I used to freak strangers out by sticking my hand directly into the blades and then letting out a shreik as the machine was cutting… and id watch as they went literally berserk. The best were the pensioners.
Of course i knew that the rear of the blades, where the bread came out, were not sharp at all and you could run your finger along the stainless blades with impunity.
But the sight of a small child shoving their arm into the noisy machine, with its mess of flailing knives would send them reeling. False teeth would be flapping maniacally and milky cataracts would bulge comically. Im surprised none of em ever fainted. The poor old codgers.
Id flash em a cheeky grin after… but they would usually just stagger out to get their heart medication without slicing their bread.
(Editors note. Youre a real prick Sean!)
Whenever i was hungry during the day.. id take a trot up to the local supermarket, and dig in the compartment below the bread slicers. In this drawer id find all the discarded crusts of bread… which as a child was always my favourite part anyhow.
Id take whatever crusts were there… eat my fill, then hand out the rest to homeless people along the road. They would never have been allowed to go into the shops to get the crusts themselves and it seemed like such a waste.
And id always save a slice so i could feed my favourite birds, the pigeons.
The poor things are so maligned… but if you only knew what kind of creatures they really were, youd definitely change your mind about em.
One day ill tell you a story about Egg and Omelette.. my pigeon friends that helped me set up my business.. but that’s for another day.
Of course those bread slicers are gone now… probably stored in some old warehouse.. or shipped overseas, only to come back as a hot hatch for some pimply faced teen. All relics of the past now.. brushed aside because people want stuff ever more conveniently handed to them. One day maybe they will sell the bread already pre chewed… just a bag of mush already partially digested by somebody else’s spittle, and masticated by somebody else’s holey molars.
All you’ll need to do is take a dollop of goo.. and swallow.
Grim idea i know.. but the laziness of man knows no bounds. Watch it happen.
I chose to pan fry today to rejuvenate this dry old bread… which is the way i prefer to do it at home as well. Slightly stale bread is actually better for this anyway…. only ours was hard as granite.
I am using baguettes as that is the main type of bread you find in Nosy be, Madagascar.
These are sold on the side of the road as well as in the supermarche’s.
They are made from a slightly denser, stiffer type of bread, so the pan frying in butter.. or in our case.. margerine, really helps to lighten it up.
Cut the baguette into 3cm thick discs.. butter both sides.. and fry in a dry pan on low medium heat, and after a few minutes the bread is good as new, lightly toasted, golden brown, and ready for a topping.
Break up some ham if you have.. i actually prefer it without, but for the sake of making it similar to eggs benedict.. it works.
Place ham on the toasties.. or smoked salmon if youre feeling very posh…. and now for the eggs ala drunken irishman.
When i was a kid, my mother was dating a crazy irishman named Brendan.
Many a night they would head off down to the pub, me in tow, and a heap of hours later we would leave for the trek back home.
Walking was our preferred mode of transport all through my young life. A ride in a car being very rare and somewhat of a happening for me in those days.
This crazy irishman would march down the darkened streets weaving to and fro, but not in the usual drunken fashion. When irish people do something.. they do it properly.
This guy used to bounce off a wall on one side of the street. This gave him a little momentum.. which would cause him to stagger off the pavement, doing one of those 2 steps that drunk people do as they go unexpectedly off of one level and land on another. Then he would do a gravity defying, leaning crab walk all the way across the road.. where he would somehow mount the pavement.. before ping ponging off another building.. and the cycle would begin all over again.
Of course we were of no help. Me and my mother would be walking behind, cackling our heads off at the crazy Irish Charlie Chaplin with the big wiry bush of hair on his head, as he slalomed his merry way home.
With all the zigging and the zagging he must have staggered at least 5 times the distance we walked.. even though we took the exact same route.
Clearly he’d never heard of a bee-line.
How he ever made it anywhere i dont know.. but not only did he always homing pigeon his way back to his digs.. but he would then employ his drunken master skills to make the best scrambled eggs i have ever eaten, without burning the kitchen down.
Of course, ever the curious monkey i am, id always watch and steal with with my eyes.
And so, to this day i still make this form of scrambled eggs ala drunken irishman.
These are by far the most moist scramblers i have ever eaten, and they use so few ingredients that they are a great addition to the end of the month salticrax menu.
I have, in leaner times, been kept alive by this simple but very tasty recipe.
So thanks Brendon for that… wherever you may be.. bouncing from pillar to post. Literally.
These eggs can be made as cheaply as you like, with normal cooking oil.. but if you have some butter or olive oil.. even better it will be.
Dont add milk or water, or whatever your gran used to use in her eggs.
These ones will be more eggy, and just as light as any eggs youve ever had without such things.
Heat the oil or butter to a medium heat and crack the eggs into the pan. Turn the heat off completely but leave the warm pan on the hot plate.
Add black or white pepper and salt to taste. As the egg whites start to congeal, and they start to look more like fried eggs than scrambled… run a fork through the yolks and break the whites up gently.
The idea is NOT to scramble them vigorously. You are just loosening the whites up and folding em over before they begin to dry.. so fork em about every 30 seconds or so.
When there is still a bit of liquid egg in the pan.. remove from the stove.. gently mix one more time.. and place eggs on the toasties.
Top with a piece of cheese if you have it.. and drizzle with the sauce.. which in this case is just some squeezy mayo mixed with a bit of squeezy mustard, in a ratio of 1 to 1, mixed with a small dash of paprika if you have.
Making your own hollandaise from scratch is very similar to making your own mayonnaise, and so the mayo in this cheat already has the oil and the tart to replace the butter and the lemon juice, and the cheap mustard adds the colour, texture, and the tang.
You can also add a pinch of turmeric to the sauce if you would like to get the rich yellow colour youd expect from a well made hollandaise. Looks are everything after all.
You could also melt a small knob of butter, or a splash of olive oil, and blend that into it to give the opulent richness of proper hollandaise.
If you want to be fancy.. topping the ensemble with a basil leaf or 2 adds another flavour dimension, and helps it to present well.
Breakfast… fit for an irish bar hopper. Great for hangovers, and simple as one 2 three… and as the froggies like to say before a bite.. “born up a tree!”